Sunday, 21 April 2019

Little Drummer Boy

Apart from brief views of a female in Spain last year, I haven't seen a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker since the day my daughter was born, in April 2008. On that day, I chanced upon a pair displaying in a dead tree next to the car park of Hinchinbrook Hospital. New Dad duties called, however, and I had to walk away from these gorgeous birds. In my youth (dim, distant memories), I used to watch Lesser Spots frequently around York, in Askham Bog, Knavesmire Wood, the Palace Grounds in Bishopthorpe and at Wheldrake Ings. Sadly, this species is faring badly and there are few sightings in the York area these days. The decline is linked mainly to low productivity, but why that is the case is unclear, though could be linked to habitat change.

Yesterday, I was thrilled to be shown a drumming male Lesser Spot which flew in right on cue, to drum on a bark-less section of tree right in front of us. He continued for two minutes, before flying off to his next drumming spot. I heard him call just the once, a shrill falcon-esque 'kee-kee-kee...'.

After several minutes, he was back on his original spot, where he showed beautifully. His drumming was very distinctive, as you will see in the video, being longer and repeated very frequently, unlike Great Spotted. I hope this little drummer boy finds a mate and helps this great little bird remain part of Yorkshire's birdlife.

Also noted, one male Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming and one yaffling Green Woodpecker, completing the woodpecker hat-trick.

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